DUBAI– Toyota Racing experienced a dramatic but very frustrating Six Hours of the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas last week which ended with a podium finish but promised much more for the fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Heavy rain early in the race caused chaos and necessitated a stunning recovery drive for the #8 TS040 Hybrid of Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sébastien Buemi, who finished third to leave with a 11-point lead in the drivers’ standings.
According to Takayuki Yoshitsugu, Chief Representative, Middle East and North Africa Representative Office, TOYOTA Motor Corporation, “The team did very well to place third and get a podium finish and credit goes to the entire team and support staff for competing hard and overcoming the challenging weather conditions. It’s now time to move on and prepare for the next round at the Six Hours of Fuji race where Toyota will look to build on its successful track record and go for victory to remain in the hunt for winning the drivers’ championship.”
On this occasion, Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President said: “This is a frustrating result because we had the fastest car but couldn’t win the race. The wet conditions were extremely challenging and unfortunately we suffered more than our rivals. From then on, it was a damage limitation exercise where we had to push as hard as we could to get the maximum points available. We wanted a lot more from this weekend and we will be pushing very hard to achieve a much better result at Fuji Speedway.”
Anthony Davidson said: “Looking on the bright side, which you have to do when the result doesn’t go your way, the good news is we had the fastest car. We should have won, that was clear. Going forward, we have a car to fight for the championship. It is going to be tough but we are still ahead in the drivers’ championship at least. We can only look forward and make sure we win as many races as we can from here on in.”
The race had begun very promisingly with the 1,000PS, four-wheel-drive TS040 Hybrids taking control at the start; pole sitter Sébastien pulling out a substantial lead while Alex brought the #7 up to second place in the opening laps.
After Mike Conway in the #7 and Nicolas in #8 took over their respective cars close to the hour mark, the race was turned upside down by a heavy rainstorm. In impossible conditions on slick tyres both cars aquaplaned off track, with the #8 getting stuck in the gravel. After a delay of nearly an hour, during which the race clock continued to count down, Nicolas took the safety car restart in fourth, with Mike back in seventh.
As the standings settled down and the next round of pit stops came, Anthony in the #8 was pushing to close the gap on the podium positions while Stéphane was sixth, with both by now on slick tyres. Sébastien began a determined pursuit of the podium places and a string of quick laps, including the fastest of the race, earned a third place which looked highly unlikely earlier in the race, while Alex took the flag in sixth.